Sunday, February 17, 2013

What the Future Holds for Video Conferencing Technology

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Video Conferencing and video calling undoubtedly have a big future ahead of them. These technologies, which since before the 1970s’ has been a hallmark of virtually any science fiction movie you can name, has finally come into its own and integrated with numerous aspects of modern society.

Today, larger video conferencing systems are used by numerous corporations, small businesses, schools and other organizations to conduct meetings and collaborate across any geographical distance. These same systems have also become remarkably cheap compared to the prices they used to entail just a couple of decades ago.

Additionally, low cost video calling in general has also undergone a near revolutionary advancement and moved from barely existing at the beginning of the 2000’s to becoming so widely used that in many cases it has replaced phone systems. Part of this innovative explosion came in the form of increasingly sophisticated mobile calling technology and the associated powerful software applications that have developed with it.

Mobile phones have basically been turned into pocket computing devices that only 20 years ago would have seemed unbelievably futuristic and the associated network speeds of wireless internet transmission  have also expanded dramatically in their capacity.

Thanks to these, we’ve seen a massive proliferation of mobile apps like FaceTime, Skype and Tango that give people the ability to call by video or even hold conference calls right on their mobile devices, giving them virtually free, totally portable access to communication tools that at one time would have cost thousands of dollars and whole work spaces to implement.

Now, the biggest question about video conferencing and calling revolves around these revolutionary technologies’ future advancements. Let’s examine those.

Foundations of an Increasing Interactivity

The most important part of video’s future lies in its foundations –the technologies that make up the underlying infrastructure through which video calling is possible.

As one major part of video communication’s inevitable development, these foundation technologies are growing exponentially in numerous ways.

Mobile Devices

While large-scale video conferencing systems are also slowly being developed into more streamlined systems, the real explosive innovation has occurred with mobile technology:

Mobile devices are becoming more flexible, insanely powerful compared to even desktop computers just a decade ago and more capable of numerous highly interactive tricks of touch, sound and visual technology.

The invention of full screen touch phones and tablets has made the screen quality necessary for video calling a common feature that almost anyone can afford to have in their pocket, and visual technologies such as Apple’s Retina display system have given some of these small portable devices a screen quality that even the best video display systems couldn’t hope to match more than a decade ago. Additionally, for all their incredible compactness, these mobile interfaces will soon to be replaced by even more capable flexible devices made out of paper thin materials that can be rolled up like a small plastic sheet.

Web Connectivity

The second major foundation of the future in store for video calling technology lies in the development of powerful internet connectivity, both land line and wireless.

Wired internet services have steadily been increasing the size of their transmission speed in megabits per second and with each new increase, more power of the kind needed for video data transmission can be sent over long distances. These powerful internet landlines are spreading to service ever more of the world’s urban and even rural infrastructure.

Wireless transmission systems that apply to mobile devices are also undergoing their own rapid evolution. While high bandwidth 3G networks now cover over 1 billion mobile users, 4G wireless networks, which are up to ten times more powerful, are expanding in popularity at a fast pace. In addition to both of these technologies there is the now nearly ubiquitous spread Wi Fi hotspots in all major cities and even many very remote rural areas.

The importance of both the above technologies is that they are facilitating the future of video by making it easy to use it as a communication tool in an ever growing number of locations and at an ever decreasing hardware cost.

The Future of Video Conferencing

Thanks to the development of the above foundation technologies, we are already seeing a massive rush by tech companies and software developers to enter the market for video calling services that can work over these mobile devices and powerful internet connectivity systems.

In the spheres of mobile devices and desktop computing, there are dozens of different applications available for all budgets and the level of service quality they provide is constantly increasing. This trend will continue to grow in scope and we will see an ever increasing number of business and individuals taking advantage of this cheap but powerful series of tools to collaborate internationally, telecommute to their jobs and create entire online business models that have no basis in any single physical location.

As far as more robust video conferencing hardware in the form of telepresence rooms and terminals goes, innovations today are constantly pushing costs down to a point where affordability of some kind exists even for private individuals with modest budgets. Systems such as Cisco’s telepresence package, which cost over $300 thousand dollars to install just 5 years ago, are now being offered for less than $30,000 dollars.

 This downward pricing trend for large video conferencing systems is continuing while the above-mentioned mobile and desktop video calling technologies advance upward at only modest or sometimes even non-existent increases in cost to users.

The end result of these two tendencies in innovation will be an eventual meshing of both sides of the video communication spectrum –personal, portable video calling and professional grade video conferencing.  This means that while a high end telepresence market will always exist, perhaps with radical new augmentations such as VR technology. The video conferencing landscape in general will essentially democratize and integrate fully with numerous aspects of daily business, work, careers and organization due to a large population of ordinary users all having access to enormous telepresence power right in hands reach.


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